I've had some good post-divorce dates. (There were a couple of unmitigated disasters, too, but let's focus on the good.) I've seen good movies and laughed at awful ones, just glad to be in good company. A date and I took a nice walk in the fall around the park near my house. I've taken suitors to my favorite eateries (sushi and pizza--neither gets old). There were sparks and butterflies and laughter. Goodbyes took longer than normal, and the time in between dates seemed to drag on forever.
But the best date I've had since the divorce was no date at all.
Dylan and I have an interesting history. Not complicated, just different. See, Dylan and I have been friends for fifteen years or longer. We met as young teenagers through a group of mutual friends. Not even old enough to legally drive a car, we struck up a friendship. While I cannot speak to what drew him to me, but he was a creative soul and a deep thinker. I liked that in a person--still do.
Some believe that you can't have friends of the opposite sex without one or both parties falling for the other at some point. This may be true. As Dylan and I reflect on our long friendship, we both recall times that our feelings transcended friendship. We never dated, though, bewildering as that might be. And maybe that is what has allowed us to preserve our friendship. Fifteen years, two children, moves out of state, failed relationships, graduations, and grown-up careers, and we're still friends. We can go years without speaking (and have done so more than once--not out of malice or disagreement) and pick up again with a simple email or text.
So when Dylan told me he was coming to town last summer, I was excited. I couldn't believe I was going to see my old friend--it had been nearly a decade! He wasn't going to be in town long, so I knew our time would be short, but any time in person was sure to be a treat.
We planned to meet at a local mall, grab a coffee, and walk around. Dylan showed up looking just as I remembered him, but a Starbucks wasn't to be found. We stopped in the nearest restaurant and he bought me a lemonade. We sat for a moment--I showed him a picture of my new dog. We shared a laugh over the fact that he had been to a high school reunion and spilled the beans about whom I was dating at the time. I asked about some of our mutual friends. But mostly I mused about how easy it all felt.
Not wanting to waste away the pretty July day, we began walking around, conversing, not paying much attention to the people or the shops. Until we came upon a bookstore. I'm not sure who suggested we go in, but it was a brilliant idea. We continued our conversation amidst the books. Dylan and I made our way upstairs and found a window seat (I promise I'm not making this up--I am not a romance novelist, I promise). We sat down and talked about the past and about what the future might look like. We discussed our goals and dreams. All too quickly, it was time to part ways.
He walked me to my car in the rain. We hugged and said goodbye.
Nothing romantic happened at all. There were no touches of the hand. No stolen kisses. He didn't profess his love for me, nor I him. And, yet, I felt like it was the best date I had been on in a long time.
Over-thinker that I am, I began analyzing why. And I decided it was because the divorce had required me to grow up and rethink my priorities in a partner. Gone were the days of chasing the cad with a pretty face and fickle affection.
Instead, I realized, I am now looking for a companion--one who I can sit and talk freely and easily with. Someone who I am not afraid of sharing my dreams and ambitions with, someone who invites me to do so and hears me when I speak.
I discovered, too, that I am not looking for fancy dates and frivolous gifts--our "date" cost less than $5. While I am not wealthy by any means, I do just fine providing for my children and myself. It is a relief to know that I don't let finances dictate my relationship status.
Finally, I realized that I am waiting on a partner who shares similar interests as me--interests such as books, education, and deep conversation. I really enjoyed having someone around, however briefly, who could debate and analyze and challenge me. I want that in a relationship; I want that in my life.
Most importantly, I concluded that I am okay waiting. Now that I am secure in who I am and what I want in a relationship, I am also content to wait until I find it. And I learned it all on the best date I never had.